Dean Elgar’s 85 not out steered the Proteas to 157-1 at tea on day one of the Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
South Africa have progressed since lunch, adding 89 runs without losing any wickets. What those stats won’t indicate is how challenging the conditions are out in the middle, or exactly how well the West Indies have bowled.
If not for some diabolical fielding by the tourists, Elgar, Faf du Plessis, and perhaps another Proteas batsman, would already be back in the hut. Du Plessis was dropped twice after lunch, while West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin missed a stumping when Elgar charged at a Sulieman Benn delivery.
Benn, Jason Holder, and Jerome Taylor bowled beautifully during this period, and were unfortunately let down by their team-mates in the field. Marlon Samuels grounded a relatively easy chance in the gully, and Devon Smith failed to hang onto to a sharp chance at slip.
That said, Elgar and Du Plesss have fought hard for the Proteas’ current position. What’s been evident is that scoring on this particular St Georges track is difficult. It’s taken no small measure of concentration and determination to cope with the conditions as well as the quality of the West Indies’ bowling.
Elgar reached the half-century mark after 127 deliveries. Du Plessis has scored at a slower rate, and has been content to allow Elgar to take the odd chance. Together, the pair has put on 110 for the second wicket, and in doing so have laid the platform for those to come. Apart from established players such as Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, the Proteas possess some exciting rookies in Stiaan van Zyl and Temba Bavuma.
Alviro Petersen is the only batsman to miss out thus far, after being dismissed for 17 earlier today. West Indies won the toss on an overcast morning, and elected to bowl. They came into this fixture with five specialist bowlers (four seamers and one spinner), and were expected to make an impact. And yet, it took an exceptionally poor shot by Petersen for the West Indies to make the breakthrough.
After two sessions without further success, the West Indies should be concerned. They’ve bowled well but have failed to hang onto their catches. The Proteas batsmen have rode their luck, and the best of that lineup is still to come. The hosts are in a great position.
SA 1st innings – 157-1 (Dean Elgar 85 not out, Faf du Plessis 42 not out, Shannon Gabriel 1-28)
South Africa – Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (capt), AB de Villiers, Stiaan van Zyl, Temba Bavuma, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel, Imran Tahir
West Indies – Devon Smith, Kraigg Brathwaite, Leon Johnson, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin (capt & wk), Jason Holder, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Shannon Gabriel, Kenroy Peters.